Book of the Month
A team of alien anthropologists comes to Earth in replicated bodies, attempting to pass for human based on historical documents, old movies and pop culture. There is a plot involving judging humanity’s readiness to join the Galactic community and conflict with a second alien race intent on evil, but the real point of Passing for Human is the Mark Twainian device of using outside observers to remark on society. Which device allows Scott to take a ruthlessly extraterrestrial look at the human condition (“Oh, but I love Earthies. Dr. Pepper! Rice-A-Roni! Ecology! People’s Republics! Education! Hail to the Chief! Blood of the Lamb! – I don’t know how Mersoid can sneer at those darling humans all the time. Of course, after today I can see his point just a little, teeny bit, but certainly not enough to kill off the entire population.”), and to posit a character who is entirely free of internalized oppression (“Leaping lizards, it was a wonderful feeling, this being alive in a human body! She couldn’t help bouncing up and down in the bucket seat out of sheer exuberance. Graduation day. What a thrill. After months of training here she was, roaming the savage backwater planet Earth, ready to begin her first assignment.”).
As Scott explained at the time about her protagonist Benaroya, “I wanted to present a truly free character. I looked around and didn’t see any models in the ‘real world’ so I made her an extraterrestrial.”
Widely praised for its originality (“Quite unlike anything anyone else has ever done.” -Neil Gaiman; “A stunning piece of iconoclasm” –PW; “A wild, original and outrageously funny writer.” –TimeOut; “A superb social satirist.” -Samuel Delany), Passing and its companion books nonetheless disappeared from print for 30 years until being recently rediscovered and republished.
Publisher’s Weekly writes of the new editions, “Still one of the most astonishing works of science fiction ever written.”
If there is a central theme to Scott’s work it is this: reality is bigger and richer than the bill of good you’ve been sold, so fuck society and its brainwashing; be a pirate, live a life of joy (it’s the best revenge), and never, ever underestimate the (r)evolutionary potential of a bit of silliness.
So check out Passing for Human, the paradigm you shift may be your own.